Top Obama Inaugural Collectibles

Superstar Will Smith got teary.

Ellen Malcolm, founder of Emily’s List called it “a proud moment in our nation’s history.”

Great Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown deemed it “inspirational.”

There were reports of millions of joyful people dancing in the streets from Bogotá to Naples to Shanghai to Chicago.

Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert slaughtered cows in honor of the occasion.

The Sun (UK) found one weeping German celebrant who said, “In my lifetime, the world’s people have never felt closer.”

Former South African President Nelson Mandela called the event “monumental.”

It “Unleashes a Flood of Hope Worldwide,” proclaimed a New York Times headline.

Obama’s historic inauguration

This is just a tip of the reaction to Barack Obama’s election as 44th president of the United States. On January 20, this man whose mother was a white woman from Kansas and father a black Kenyan will be sworn into office on the steps of the United States Capitol.

It estimated that anywhere from two to five million people will jam Washington, D.C., to witness history being made as the first African-American takes the presidential oath of office.

And without question, the inauguration will produce a raft of collectibles. The question for collectors is how to tell the difference between items that will only have sentimental or commemorative value and those that will be true historical keepsakes.

Luckily, there is a way to tell the difference.

New York Post day after election

New York Post day after election

The first rule of collectibles is if there are many of them, their value is reduced. When Barack Obama defeated John McCain, scores of newspapers trumpeted historic headlines, some are still being reprinted and sold as commemoratives. Because there are so many of them, their value will be limited. This will be also true for the scores of inaugural newspaper editions.

Conversely, if there are few items, their collectible value will be higher. Lead-crystal vases featuring an engraved inaugural seal from the best glassmakers in the world, for example, will continue as a long-term investment as a historical and highly prized collectible. The sticker price will reflect that, as well.

If you want a head start on long-term collectibles, buy things with the official seal of the 56th Presidential Inauguration Committee. (Some presidents have served more than one term and therefore, have had more than one inauguration.) These are items officially recognized by the only committee chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to oversee and pay for official inaugural events, such as the inaugural balls. Over time, these items, from specially designed pins by renowned artist Ann Hand to glassware, jewelry, posters and all manner of memorabilia, will be the items most collected, and they all will carry the official seal of the committee in their design.

Glass paperweight

Glass paperweight

Then there is the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies comprised of members from the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who are responsible for the swearing-in ceremonies and the congressional luncheon. The official programs for these events, particularly the swearing-in, will have a clear long-term collectible value. In fact, it is safe to say that the programs for this transformational inaugural will be especially valuable over time.

Inaugural mug

Inaugural mug

There are other official inaugural items that will be highly sought after by collectors, such as the official inaugural badge. Since 1933, the two dozen or so official police units operating within the District of Columbia have issued specially created police badges for use during the inaugural period. The early ones are very rare, while the more recent ones continue to be highly valued. Press credentials, military items, signage, anything out of the ordinary such as the cardboard No Parking signs attached throughout the city are highly collectible long after the event, too.

“In my store, Political Americana, we are fortunate to have all kinds of inaugural souvenirs from a simple button, badge, lapel pin, tote bag, T-shirt and coffee mug to the official inaugural medal and glassware,” says Jim Warlick, owner of Political Americana and WorthPoint Worthologist for political items. “Our full-scale Oval Office will also provide you with the opportunity to have your picture taken behind a replica of the Oval Office desk the new president will use.”

Obama inaugural T-shirt

Obama inaugural T-shirt

Mary Brenneman, WorthPoint content director, sees significance in collectibles beyond their collecting value. “I find it fascinating that collectibles can serve as harbingers.”

She points out that Warlick predicted back in the spring of 2008 that Obama would win the election because his collectibles were outselling Hillary Clinton’s and John McCain’s combined.

So be you Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Independent, now’s the time to look to the future and search out Obama inauguration collectibles.

WorthPoint-Get the Most from Your Antiques & Collectibles

  • Idir Azouz

    The answer to the recent job loss problem and its consequences is to analyze what made America number one in the global market in the past The solution is right there! on our nose. America should go back to the era when anything made America, by Americans in America a was synonymous with top quality and safe products. Today most products and services are made by workers are not familiar with the terms safe and quality. In fact, expect for a few products, the majority of the products made in America are considered low quality. This is sad! I am a from another country and I have heard numerous non-flattering words by all groups whenever the American products are discussed. To the manufacturer I say please keep the jobs in America. The products maybe more expensive, but the foreign products are nowhere near the quality and safety of similar products in America. You have to believe that foreign countries will go for products made in American, by American citizens each time they have to import a product. For the majority of countries quality and safety are more important than lower cost.

  • What about the Obama-Amazing Spider-man comic, #583, available this week? It’s hot stuff I tell ya!

  • Wow Tim, what a stupid comment. I sure hope the moderator deletes it.

    I had saved the mailers from the campaign, and took them to my flea market booth when it was over. They sold for $2 and $4 each! People think they are going to be worth a mint, but I think the opposite. I read a statistic somewhere that more campaign material was made for this election than any point in history. I say now is the time to sell this stuff.

  • Kay Gaiter

    I have a photo of me with President Elect Obama in the background from the Tarrant County Convention Center stop he made on in my cellphone, is there any value to it?

  • Tom Carrier

    Kay, your photo in your cell phone has a great deal of sentimental value to you. You were there! A monetary value only exists in this format if something historical occurred at the time you took the shot. Then, it could be considered newsworthy enough for you to sell the rights to it.

  • I don’t think your photo is worth anything – especially on your cellphone! You may try getting a quality print, and save it with a newspaper story about his appearance in the area. It may be worth something some time from now.

  • Francine

    I have a first edition copy of the Audacity of Hope signed by our new president. The price on ebay was 150 a few days ago and now it appears to be in 300s. Sell or Keep?

  • Scott

    I have over 280 mint condition copies of the full newspaper all sealed in zipped clear bags from January 21st, 2009 from many areas of United States as well as other countries. It’s a keepsake for sure. One paper may not be worth much alone however almost 300 should definitely interest some to want to view in the future and not only watch history in the making but also be a part of it.

  • Tom Carrier

    An authenticated autograph of any president from Richard Nixon to the present, always has a value of about $200 to $300. Of course, that depends on what the autograph is on, such as whether it is on a document, campaign sign, ticket, program, or other item and also whether the item has historic value such as an original resignation letter signed by Richard Nixon. Be sure the autograph can be verified as authentic first, then store the book in an acid free box away from direct light.

    It seems, though, that an autograph from President Obama has started much higher than past trends. Still, it will likely level off toward the more normal collectible level, if not a bit higher, say $300 to $400, because of his particular transformational role and as he continues to sign his name more and more.

    As for newspapers of the nomination and inauguration, it isn’t possible for these newspapers to achieve a collectible level above $2 to $3 each, because of the sheer volume printed. Too many of the JFK assassination newspapers and magazines, for example, have never had a value higher than $3, although many dealers continue to try to reach higher levels. They simply aren’t that historic, generally speaking. Plus, newspapers and magazines require special handling throughout their life as they are prone to decay rather rapidly. Be sure to encase EACH one in an acid free environment and not expose them to outside influences for more than just a few moments on occasion. That said, there is something to be said for sentimental value, too.

    For any collectible to have a unique value, you must try to collect unique things. If there are so many created, the overall value is less. Less is more in the world of collectibles.

  • Tom, Daytona Beach FL

    I purchased an official badge set that was authorized by my agency to commemorate the Inauguration. We did not wear it but were allowed to purchase as an official badge. The numbers made were minimal, something on the order of 1000 to maybe 1200 out of a nationvide department of about 3000.

    I imagine my set will be worth much more in time above the $75 it cost.

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